Fresh, quality produce is the backbone of every restaurant. Easy access can improve the quality of food, reduce waste and save costs. With the easy availability of new and old technology, there’s barely any reason for commercial kitchens to not have even a small vegetable or herb patch.
Farm-to-table food has been a buzzword in the culinary world. Gourmets place emphasis on hyperlocal cuisine, organic produce, and fresh flavours. Sourcing this from supermarkets or vendors can increase costs as herbs and vegetables tend to have a short shelf life. After factoring in expenses on garden infrastructure, soil, seeds, and upkeep, growing produce in a restaurant kitchen garden can save thousands in produce bills, refrigeration costs, and waste.
The sudden lockdown last year proved how important access to fresh produce was. With a kitchen garden, restaurants will not need to worry about shortages, particularly of more exotic herbs and vegetables.
AESTHETICS & EMPLOYMENT
Running a kitchen garden, particularly for a resort, can offer employment to local gardeners while beautifying the place with the vivid colours of fresh produce. Guests today place importance on knowing where their food comes from, and hotels with more than one restaurant can share the same garden space.
It’s common knowledge that plants purify the air, reduce heat and pollution, and generally lift spirits. Growing the produce – or even some of it – for your commercial kitchen can cut down on packaging which ends up in landfills and garbage dumps. Many delicate herbs, mushrooms, and salad leaves are usually packaged in boxes to avoid damage during transportation. The carbon emissions from transporting the produce from the farm to the store to your kitchen, the packaging, and any waste from vegetables that rotted in transit all add up.
Growing your own produce can keep you in better control of the quality of the ingredients. You can source organic seeds, ensure the fertiliser is chemical-free, and work towards water efficiency. Vegetables, herbs and fungi from your garden will help set and maintain a standard of quality. With barely a few hours between harvest and consumption, you can genuinely promise the freshest ingredients.
Kitchen gardens can encourage composting as a circular economy in terms of recycling. Old plant material, vegetable waste, eggshells, and coffee grounds make the perfect natural compost that can feed your garden. Vegetable scraps are also excellent ingredients to make in-house soup stocks before they can be broken down in the composting pit.
Resorts are able to spread out their vegetable patches but smaller restaurants might not have that luxury. It’s still possible to have a vegetable garden by choosing compact varieties such as cherry tomatoes, dwarf lemon plants, baby eggplants, and others. Growing vertically is also a great way to save on space. Tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, and malabar spinach can be trained to grow on support structures. Shallow-rooted plants such as garlic, lettuce, and radish grow well in containers like old metal buckets or even jute grow bags.